My home, the Bloody Point Lighthouse, is well noted by Daufuskie Island locals as the most haunted structure on Daufuskie, if not the entire Carolina Lowcountry. In previous years, I have hosted a Halloween party, topping off the evening with a reading of "The Ghost of Daufuskie Island" written by Nancy Roberts about the Bloody Point Lighthouse and featured in her book, "South Carolina Ghosts: From the Coast to the Mountains."
Prior to one such reading almost five years ago, I invited morning deejay Monty Jett from WLOW to tape my oratory and play it on a Halloween day show. Well, you guessed it. Mysteriously, the high-tech recording equipment somehow malfunctioned, the reading was erased and, shall we say, strange things began to happen. Since that day, I have discontinued the Halloween evening events and only offered "the reading" to children from Hilton Head Preparatory School's kindergarten, when requested by my dear friend Yasushi Tomita.
With that being said, I now present to you a story I wrote last year about my experience with the children at Haig Point Lighthouse. Publish it with discretion. Who knows what might happen to The Island Packet presses.
October 22, 1882
"I resolved to compensate myself somewhat for the lonely week that had passed and saddled the old mule and struck out for Haig Point Lighthouse. The day was fine and I enjoyed the ride very much.
Was kindly received by Lighthouse Keeper Mr. Comer and his wife. We sat and talked for some little time and was most pleasantly surprised by the entrance of a lovely young lady wearing sweet perfume, Miss Maggie the daughter of the old folks." -- John Micheal Doyle, Bloody Point Lighthouse Keeper
October 29, 2008
"I resolved to compensate myself somewhat for the lonely financial week and unplugged the charger on my golf cart and struck out for Haig Point Lighthouse. The day was fine, and I enjoyed the ride very much. Lighthouse Keeper Comer, his wife and daughter, Maggie, long deceased, would not be
there for socializing but I was about to have the unique pleasure of meeting with the students of the Hilton Head Prep kindergarten. It was there that I would share tales of the spirits of Daufuskie Island lighthouse." -- Lowcountry Joe, Bloody Point Lighthouse Keeper
A while back, Yasushi Tomita, the father of one of the students, had asked if I would meet with his daughter's classmates and share with them Daufuskie lighthouse ghost stories. I immediately agreed, and the date was set.
The planned day finally arrived and brought with it the lowest temperatures of the year made colder by brisk Northeast winds. As I approached the front of Haig Point Light, waves enhanced by a higher than normal tide broke against the sandy bank and a chilly mist permeated the air. Ahh, a perfect morning for a lighthouse ghost story if I ever saw one.
Soon the assembled students arrived and after a tour of the lighthouse's marvelous interior, we sat in the confines of the small front living area. My plan was to read the story of the Bloody Point Lighthouse ghost as written by Nancy Roberts. It just so happens that when my bride and I first purchased the Bloody Point Lighthouse we were met by Sal, now deceased, and told the exact story before we knew of the existence of the book.
That was all well and good, but with the chance of scaring the gajebees out of my young audience I found it important to also tell them about the Spirit of Maggie. She was the lovely young lady noted by Keeper Doyle in his October 1882 note. Her spirit is alive and well at Haig Point and every night shift worker knows of her early demise and continued presence. I made no mention of my early arrival and my "personal chat" with Maggie asking for kindness, and was pleased my discourse seemed to go over OK with the kids. Just when I was about to begin the "reading," a young man spoke up and strongly suggested he didn't believe in ghosts. I continued on without comment or interruption, knowing from past experience that by story's end he too would be a believer.
All eyes were on me as I started the first line of the story: "Daufuskie, the very name is filled with mystery." It's about three young children, Nick, Jessica and Rusty, who lived with their parents in the Bloody Point Lighthouse. It tells of the days when, like me, they wandered about Daufuskie at night and gazed through holes in above-ground mausoleums only to see the dark outlines and strange-shaped coffins.
The story also tells of daily occurrences with a friendly spirit and, more importantly, a specific evening when that spirit made its presence known to all.
That particular evening, they were sitting in front of the fireplace when strange sounds were heard upstairs, followed by the sound of footsteps descending the dark, enclosed stairway. The footsteps disappeared, but within moments a rocking chair in the corner began rocking back and forth, back and forth, the old pine flooring squeaking with every movement. It was at this point that I peeked over at my doubting friend. Once sitting comfortably back in a comfortable wing-backed chair, he now was sitting on its edge, eyes glued to the front of my book, not knowing if "flight" might not be a better option.
The story-telling proceeded and ended without the occurrence of any strange events, thankfully no strange sounds or lights flickering. The small hands of my captivated audience gave me a gracious round of applause, and my doubting friend seemed emboldened by thesilence.
I received an appreciative nod from the teachers and as they departed through the lighthouse foyer, a lovely young lady named Laura turned around, looked deeply into my eyes and said, "Thank you."
The lighthouse room once filled with fascination and youth was again empty and waiting for human spirits to make their presence. I made my way up the narrow stairs to turn off the lights and the musty smell of old timbers mysteriously disappeared, and the smell of sweet perfume permeated the air.
PLEASE VISIT THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.lowcountryjoes.com
Tour is limited to 25 People
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Ticket Info: $95* per person
(Parental Discretion Advised)
Things You'll See, Hear & Feel:
Secret Gullah Cemeteries!
An Undertaker's House Eaten By A Bird!
Speaking in Tongues & Indian Chanting!
Decaying Haunted Houses!
Spirit Ley Lines of the Silver Dew Winery® noted in Pat Conroy's novel "The Water is Wide"
Tour Includes Gullah Debbil Crab & Silver Dew Wine Tasting!
* Arriving on Hilton Head Island via Route 278, take left at first traffic light and proceed to parking lot.
* Arrive 30 min early to park and board.
* Parking is $3.00 (Pay at Lot)
* Boat leaves from the Hilton Head / Daufuskie Island Embarkation at 5:30 pm sharp. 421 Squire Pope Rd., Hilton Head, SC 29926
* Boat returns at 9:30 pm to the Hilton Head / Daufuskie Island Embarkation.
* Standard Ticket Agent Fees Apply. Special Rates for Daufuskie Island Residents.
Haunted Daufuskie Island is a residential "sea island" between Savannah, Georgia and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina about 2 3/4 miles offshore. Rather than a "barrier island" within a series of associated linear islands, it is the sort of island we usually imagine as a sea bottom high point that rises up above the water's surface. The total island surface is just 8 square miles within the maximum length of 5 miles and maximum width of 2 1/2 miles.
Daufuskie has become a popular retreat away from the typical tourist route. Daufuskie embraces a local feel with an island lifestyle often visited by music lovers and great down-home bands. It has a full-time population of around 430. Daufuskie is home to two resorts, a private residential community, and a largely undeveloped tract of residential property.
The island's recorded history traces back to Pre Revolutionary War times. It was the site of a skirmish called the "Daufuskie Fight" during the Yamasee War of 1715-1717. The island was home to a sizable population of Gullah inhabitants from the end of the Civil War until very recently. Gullah are the descendants of freed slaves. The 1988 Jimmy Buffett song, "The Prince Of Tides" laments the urbanization of the island and loss of the Gullah. The 1972 Pat Conroy book The Water is Wide was set on Daufuskie, fictionalized as "Yamacraw Island." The book recounts Mr. Conroy's experiences teaching on the island in the 1960s.
To the northeast is the Haig Point Club, a private, member owned residential club with around 150 year-round residents and over 225 homes.
South of Haig Point is the Daufuskie Resort and Breathe Spa. Formerly a private vacation club with an emphasis on golf and tennis, and offering a private residential component, this is now a publicly accessible resort. Further south on the eastern side of the island is Oak Ridge, a small oceanfront community, followed by Bloody Point, a private residential community with amenities that are an accessible part of the Daufuskie Island Resort and Breathe Spa. The Resort recently filed for bankruptcy, but a trustee has been appointed with the task of reopening the resort for the summer 2009.
The Webb and the Oakridge tracts are located mid-island and are owned by a small group of conversationalists. These plantations are managed by Conservation by Design, LLC, . CbD's plan for the island is to encourage concentrated green development or villages in coastal settings along the edge or waterfront of Daufuskie Island while preserving the bulk of the land mass for conservation. In fact, CbD recorded the first and only conservation easement on Daufuskie Island which presently encompasses about 500 acres, or 10% of Daufuskie Island’s land mass, on the Webb and the Oak Ridge tracts. The first of these villages, The Beach at Oak Ridge, is fully developed. The second, Beach Field,is an ocean front cottage community with metal roofs, wooden porches and small quaint cottages. Unlike other developments on the island, Beach Field's focus is to become a sustainable oceanfront community with low dues and open gates. Finally, CbD is currently permitting the island's town center, The Village of Daufuskie, which will be located on the Webb Tract and the Intracoastal Waterway.
The western part of the island is unincorporated land. Several dozen residents live in a variety of accommodations, from trailers to beautiful waterfront homes with private docks. This section of the island is often referred to as the Historic District. Visitors can take a tour around this historic portion of the island, with boat transportation available from nearby Hilton Head Island, Bluffton or Savannah on the mainland. Highlights include the site of the Bloody Point Lighthouse, the school where Pat Conroy taught, and the home workshops of local artisans.
The island is also home to the First Union African Baptist Church, which is Daufuskie's oldest building, and is still in use today as a place of worship.